ORANGE COUNTY, Fla – This week is Literacy Week and the American Library Association honored several children’s book authors and illustrators for books that “embody an artistic expression of the disability experience for the child and adolescent audiences.”
Two Orange County Public Schools media specialists served on the selection committee for The Schneider Family Book Award. Kellee Moye is the teacher-librarian at Hunter’s Creek Middle School and Sharon Powers is the media specialist at Lake Nona Middle School.
“It’s all about showing that disabilities are part of a person’s life, but it doesn’t define them, and they can still have a full life even though they have a disability,” Moye said.
Part of the criteria for the award is that the disability must not be portrayed in a way “to be pitied.”
“We want the literature to be positive. We want the students who read it who have disabilities to see themselves reflected. Obviously, we want that to be a positive experience. We don’t want them to read it and feel worse because they probably have had some issues in their life having a disability,” said Powers. “The power of seeing oneself reflected in literature is huge. And we want it to be an experience where kids want to read the books, talk about the books and just love the books.”
Books in five categories, determined by age group, are honored. Moye said this year they had more picture book entries than ever before. “I Talk Like a River” won in this category and is about a young boy who stutters.
“Whether they want to be a writer, they want to be a lawyer or they want to go serve in public office. It can be done, and we hear countless times of people who have made it, that it’s because they have seen themselves in a book or they were handed a specific book by a librarian that made them realize they could. And that’s very powerful,” Powers said.
You can see the full list of winners here.